"Nice guy" and "bad guy" teams in sports

Regardless of how they perform on the field, it’s nice to see some players who have better character off the field as well. And I guess we should know who the bad guys are, too, so as to know whom not to have as role models.
Please help me assemble all-time good-guy and not-so-good guy teams.

BASEBALL–Nice guys

Walter Johnson, RHP. In 21 seasons, never thrown out of a game by an umpire.
Sandy Koufax, LHP.
Lou Gehrig, 1B.
Honus Wagner, SS. “As sweet-natured as a man could be,” Ty Cobb said of him.
Stan Musial, Henry Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, outfield.

Baseball bad guys:
Ty Cobb, needs no explanation.
Bob Gibson, drilled his former roommate of several years the first time he came up as an opposing batter.
Enos Slaughter, racist.
Joe Pepitone, major injury milker.
Barry Bonds, literal Major League Asshole. (3rd gen Giants fan writing, too.)

If we’re talking management, there’s a story about two famous sportswriters who challenged each other to write down lists of the three most awful men in history (ca. 1960). Both of them wrote down “Hitler, Stalin, Walter O’Malley.”

BASEBALL–a few for the “bad guys” team:

Denny McLain, RHP
Rogers Hornsby, 2B
Ty Cobb, Albert Belle, Lenny Dykstra, outfield

Billy Martin, Manager

The major achievement in Denny McLain’s life is not winning 31 games in 1968 but somehow managing to avoid ending up in the bottom of a landfill somewhere.
And Barry Bonds was a saint compared with Albert Belle.

I’m not sure an endorsement from Ty Cobb really puts you in line for sainthood.

That’s just because the sportswriters were from Brooklyn. :stuck_out_tongue:

Nice Guys - Orel Herschiser

Baseball’s most famous nice guy: Bill Terry. He finished last.

Which I suppose was good for his wife, but not in baseball.

Nice Guy

Christy Mathewson, the Christian Gentleman

In my earlier post, I named Billy Martin as the manager of the “Bad Guy” team. On second thought, I retract that and replace Martin with Cap Anson. Great player and manager but was also the one person who most responsible for imposing baseball’s color line. On the scale of sins, that makes him a lot worse than Martin’s frequent outbursts of assholishness and petty sociopathy.

Also, this thread belongs in The Game Room.

Moved Cafe Society --> the Game Room.

Just to be a pain, I should note that, not so long ago, almost everyone connected to baseball thought Kirby Puckett was THE nicest guy ever. It turned out he wasn’t anything of the kind.

So, while I COULD nominate some people, I must concede I have no real way of knowing which athletes were/are genuinely nice people and which ones aren’t. Everything I’ve ever heard indicates that Stan Musial was a wonderful man, and maybe he was… but I just don’t know that.

Gibby was … let’s say intense. A competitor! OK, maybe a bit of a dick.

Stan Musial is one of my heroes, and in St. Louis he is a sort of demigod. Naturally, I fear the day the horrible stories come out.

Anyway, since I don’t think the OP meant to limit us to baseball, I offer for hockey’s good guy team – former NHL enforcer Kelly Chase. Yes, he spent his career cracking his knuckles on cement heads around the league. He backed down from no one, even though he was smallish by enforcer standards. But off the ice, he is apparently a helluva a guy. In the 90’s he stepped up to make sure Gateway Special Hockey (http://www.gatewaylocomotives.org/) could get ice time. The story is that he paid for a lot of their ice time out of his own pocket. And, I can’t find a cite right now, but I have a distinct memory of Chase, along with others on the Blues at the time, volunteering to fill sand bags during the 1993 flood. He received the King Clancy trophy in 1998. He always seemed to be a good guy whose job occassionally called for him to try to unscrew his opponents’ heads.

Mariano Rivera probably belongs on the “nice guy” MLB team.

A.J. Pierzynski could catch for the “bad guys.”

I had heard of good and bad guys in other sports:
FOOTBALL–bad guys
Mean Joe Greene, Linebacker–apparently lived up to his name.
Woody Hayes, college football coach–worst temper in sports. Striking one of your own players is bad enough, hitting a player on another team (Clemson) is worse. I’m not sorry he died.
Robert Irsay, owner, Colts–spirited team out of Baltimore in middle of night. Told Indianapolis fans, “This is *my family’s *team. I paid for it.” Well, bully for you. Whines about the irreverent Bob & Tom sharing a billboard with team on the Indianapolis Beltway.
HOCKEY–good guys
Gordie Howe–guard, Detroit Red Wings. Affable, will talk to sportwriters or anyone about the game. Ageless in sports.
HOCKEY–bad guys
Terry Sawchuk–team, position unknown. nasty mouth, hated just about everyone. Died in a brawl with a teammate.
Maurice Richard–Montreal Canadiens, position unknown. Book of Sports Lists says he was “a mean guy on and off the ice.”
BASEBALL–Good guys
Walter Alston, manager, L. A. Dodgers. Liked by players and fans though he sometimes got into scrapes with umpires.
Ernie Lombardi–Catcher, Cincinnati Reds. Liked or respected by everyone except the Reds’ front office. Gentle giant.
John McGraw–Hottest temper in majors. Got into a Billy Martin-Reggie Jackson-type confrontation with Ty Cobb, who (by his own admission) fist-whipped one of McGraw’s players, Like Martin, not a temper to test.
Leo Durocher–Supposedly said “Nice guys finished last.” Guess what happened with Durocher and the Cubs when he managed them in 1966.
Jake Early–Catcher, team unknown. Always tried to distract batters when pitch came. Lots of tricks.
Art Shires–First baseman, White Sox. Hotheaded jerk who punched anyone who didn’t call him “Whattaman” or “Art the Great.” Jailed in Hollywood when he came into police station and dared cops to throw him out. They threw him in when they found he was carrying a knife!

The posters who have said, for example, that Cobb, Anson and Slaughter were racists seem to want us to think that all of the other players at those times were saints with perfect racial tolerance, which we all know damn well isn’t so. There were many players and managers then who had intolerant attitudes; what I’ve seen posted here is simply a stacking of the deck. :rolleyes:

And what Cobb sasid about Wagner shouldn’t be so quickly dismissed. In one of H. Allen Smith’s books there’s an item about a visitor to the Ozarks who sees a local whittling calmly as a radio announces a tornado warning; the local says, “Don’t worry none–that’s just a cheap dime-store radio.” In other words, the medium is not the message.

Cobb wasn’t just a racist. He was a violent sociopath. He once stabbed a hotel night watchman who had the nerve to challenge Cobb for ID. He once beat up a groundskeeper, and when the groundskeeper’s wife scolded him for it, he choked her. He beat up a store owner, then smashed the guy’s store to pieces, all because Cobb’s wife complained that the store owner had insulted her. He rushed into the stands and beat the crap out of a disabled heckler (the man had no hands).

As for Cobb’s racism - yes, attitudes were different at the time, and there were plenty of unapologetic racists in all areas of life. But Cobb was extreme even by the standards of his time. He wasn’t a Klansman (as far as I know), but he was prone to using violence against any black person whom he thought didn’t show the proper deference. For example, the groundskeeper he assaulted committed the sin of touching Cobb as a friendly gesture.

On the other hand, I do think Cap Anson gets too much blame for the color line. It’s not that Anson wasn’t at fault - he was. It’s not even that Organized Baseball wasn’t at fault - it was. It’s that American society as a whole was at fault. Segregation was the norm. It was enforced by law in the south and by agreement in the north.

Here’s a thought experiment. Suppose that tomorrow a prominent baseball player refused to take the field against someone from a group he despised. How would his manager react? How would his team react? How would MLB and society as a whole react? Compare this to how people reacted when Cap Anson refused to take the field against Moses Fleetwood Walker in 1888.

As for Enos Slaughter - he deliberately spiked Jackie Robinson for no other reason than Robinson’s color. Yes, racism was common at the time, but Slaughter was the only major league ballplayer who did anything like this.

Nice guys finish last?

Nope. I give you Bob Paisley. Arguably the most successful football manager ever.

Since the OP lacks a third baseman for his nice-guy baseball team, I’ll nominate Brooks Robinson for that position.

Slight nitpicks. Joe Greene was a Defensive Tackle not a linebacker and his nickname had nothing to do with his persona. He played for the North Texas Mean Green football team in college.

Can’t argue that early in his career he was a bad guy but he seemed to mellow over the years and I’d be loathe to call him one of football’s bad guys.

I’ll nominate Conrad Dobler, one of his contemporaries in his stead. He revelled in the bad guy image.

I’ll also nominate Bill Romanowski and Rae Carruth, maybe the worst guy ever in pro football.

Agreed that Greene, despite his nickname, never had a particular reputation as a dirty or nasty player, AFAIK.

In addition to the three you mention (deserving, all), I’ll add a few:

Ndomukong Suh. Cheap-shot artist, dirty player.

Most of the Packers’ defense in the mid 1980s, when Forrest Gregg was coach (and I say this as a Packer fan). Ken Stills and Charles Martin tried to cripple Matt Suhey and Jim McMahon, respectively. Mossy Cade was convicted of sexually assaulting a female relative. Chuck Cecil had a reputation as a headhunter as a player, and hasn’t reformed much as a coach (see this clip, at around 1:09).

NFL Assistant Coach: Gregg Williams, proprietor of the Saints bounty system.

How about Jack Tatum, who refused to apologize for breaking Daryl Stingley’s neck? Even if it was a clean hit, he could have at least made a statement of regret.